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PaizoCon 2014!

Nyrazha, Soul Slayer


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

Nyrazha, Soul Slayer
Portrait: Portrait 7
Description: Nyrazha appears to be a Varisian woman in her mid-twenties. Nyrazha is a dhampir, an unholy joining of human and vampire. She views herself as the perfect balance between two imperfect worlds.
Motivations/Goals: She recruits lesser vampires, other undead, and humans in an effort to remake humanity in her image. She promises immortality, foments political maneuvering, and utilizes force to maintain her followers’ allegiance. Ultimately, Nyrazha desires more than immortality. As soon as her powerbase is secure, she enters the Starstone’s cathedral.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: Nyrazha resides in the foothills of the Tusk Mountains just inside Ustalav. She recruits from settlements along Lake Lias and the foothills. The PCs are hired by Prince Aduard Ordranti III to investigate the disruption of goods from Canterwall before Ustalav falls into civil unrest.
Nyrazha and some followers travel into Virlych to recruit more undead to her cause. A patrol from Lastwall failed to return; the PCs are hired to find them and eliminate whatever horror befell them.
Nyrazha is forming diplomatic ties in various nations. The PCs hear disquieting rumors of the negotiations between these nations and the woman aspiring to godhood.

Nyrazha, Soul Slayer CR 8
Female dhampir monk (hungry ghost monk, APG 110) 9
LE Medium humanoid (dhampir)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +4
===== Defense =====
AC 26, touch 20, flat-footed 22; (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +1 dodge, +4 Dex, +2 monk, +2 natural, +2 Wis)
hp 62 (9d8+18)
Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +8 (+2 vs. disease, enchantment, and mind-affecting effects)
Defensive Abilities improved evasion, negative energy affinity, resist level drain
Weakness light sensitivity
===== Offense =====
Spd 60 ft.
Melee unarmed +8/+3 (1d10+2 plus 1d6 sonic), unarmed flurry of blows +9/+9/+4/+4 (1d10+2 plus 1d6 sonic)
Special Attacks flurry of blows, steal ki, life funnel, punishing kick (9/day, DC 16, prone)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th)
3/day--detect undead
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat Nyrazha drinks a potion of mage armor and a potion of barkskin.
During Combat Nyrazha’s minions attack anyone with a visible holy symbol. She uses flurry of blows, Punishing Kick, and Vital Strike in melee. She uses life funnel and steal ki as often as possible. She uses Mobility, Catch Off-Guard, and Throw Anything when necessary. She uses the robe of bones to reinforce her undead.
Morale Nyrazha retreats if her hit points fall below half the total and she has no potions of inflict light wounds. She also retreats if more than half her undead minions are turned or destroyed.
Base Statistics AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 15; (+1 deflection, +4 Dex, +2 monk, +2 Wis)
===== Statistics =====
Str 14, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +13; CMD 28
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Catch Off-Guard(B), Dodge, Extra Ki, Improved Unarmed Strike(B), Mobility(B), Punishing Kick(B), Throw Anything(B), Toughness, Vital Strike
Skills Acrobatics +16 (+25 Jump only), Bluff +2, Climb +14, Escape Artist +16, Perception +4, Stealth +16; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Perception
Languages Common
SQ fast movement, high jump, ki pool (8 points, magic), maneuver training, slow fall 40 ft, undead resistance
Combat Gear 5 potions of inflict light wounds, 3 potions of mage armor, potion of barkskin; Other Gear Amulet of Mighty Fists (thundering), ring of protection +1, robe of bones
===== Special Abilities =====
AC Bonus (Ex)
Evasion (Ex)
Fast Movement (Ex)
Flurry of Blows (Ex)
High Jump (Ex)
Improved Evasion (Ex)
Ki Pool (Su)
Life Funnel (Su)
Maneuver Training (Ex)
Resist Level Drain (Ex)
Slow Fall (Ex)
Steal Ki (Ex)
Still Mind (Ex)

Cheliax Contributor

Congratulations on reaching Round Three. My job is to comment on your character concept, not the rules. Also, I’ll leave typos and low-level writing issues to the mercies of the other judges.
I’m hoping to see villains with a compelling motivation and clear goal. I’ll try to point out both strengths and weaknesses before making a simple yes/no recommendation. Good luck in the voting!

Love the personal name, not super keen on the heavy-metal appellation. The description doesn’t send me until the last sentence, which makes it worthwhile by opening up her point of view. Good start.

When we get to motivations/goals, I’m a little underwhelmed. It’s good to give Nyrazha more than the “convert humanity into my image” motivation, but the Starstone is another grand endeavor. Two operatic goals can work, but they need some human foundation. It would be wonderful to see one or both of those linked to a pettier impulse like greed or vanity. As it stands, they aren’t bad villain goals; they’re just a little grand.

The hooks leave me cold, perhaps because there’s no common human element in the background and motivation to which to link them.

You have been weighed and measured:
Reluctantly, I vote no to advance this one.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Alright, Marie...welcome to the Top 16! I could be wrong, but I think you're the first female competitor to make it this far since Christine Schneider won the whole thing in 2008. But you should know the competition gets pretty fierce in ever-escalating intensity from here on out. And that's no different in how the judges review your stuff at this stage of the game. So I'm going to dive under the hood a little and mark through this thing like I'd do if I were an editor. My comments are mostly going to come instream as I review things, and please take them as constructive criticism. I've also spoilered them for length:

Spoiler:

First, let's examine your choice of villain. Another dhampir? And another hungry ghost monk? It seems there's some parallel development at work in the minds of the competitors this year. But, in this case, I really like the appropriateness of a ki stealing hungry ghost monk that's already a dhampir with an affinity for negative energy and resistance to level draining. This feels like the appropriate species for a hungry ghost monk to make an appearance. I'm not completely sold on your chosen portrait for this villain. She certainly looks the part of a Varisian (and that's a nice tie-in with their frequent travels to and from Ustalav)...but it's just not what I'd imagine a dhampir to look like...and certainly a departure from what's depicted in the Bestiary 2. Even so, let's see what we've got...

Your descriptive text is fitting. And, you've given us a glimpse into her psyche as someone who's competely comfortable straddling the worlds of both humans and vampires. It's interesting that she views herself as a perfected form of both "species" so to speak. I kind of like that element to her mindset.

The motivation and goals for Nyrazha seem plausible at first. She's leading an alliance of vampires (though what's a "lesser" vampire...do you mean vampire spawn?), humans, and "other" undead (which I would have liked to see you specify some examples...ghouls? wights? etc.). And, she's promising immortality (though I'm not sure how as she isn't an actual vampire capable of spawning more of her kind). She stirs up political trouble and isn't afraid of using force to maintain her alliance and push toward her goals. And that's what I'm really searching for...i.e., what are her goals. Apparently, it's to become a goddess by taking the test of the Starstone?

Well, I'll admit that I'm not as put off by the inclusion of the Starstone in this villain as I was for the demented pixie. Your theory here is more plausible, because there are others who have undertaken a similar goal, albeit more on the good side of morality than this villain would be. But all in all, I'm still looking for some more tangible immediate goals she's set for herself on the way to her powerplay for godhood. And, unfortunately, the schemes and plot hooks don't really establish much more along those lines. So, conceptually, I liked where you were headed here. I just think you gave us too many generalities and not enough specificity for this villain to leave a memorable impression.

But, let's put that aside and examine the technical aspects of your stat-block and see how you did there. First up, I notice you're calling her the "Soul Slayer" and I didn't see anything that helps explain that appellation. Beyond that, you've done a really good job with the math on your villain. This stat-block is rock solid except for some stylistic elements in the presentation. For instance, you don't need the long list of special abilities. Those are self-contained in the stat-block and it's okay to leave the GM to reference them by looking up those abilities in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, as needed. If anything, you could have listed the dhampir's special abilities instead, but I'm not sure you would have had room with your word count to do so. Within your gear, you need to get in the habit of lowercasing your magic items...so don't capitalize the amulet of might fists, etc.

As for your villain's tactics, you've got three sentences in there that start with, "She uses..." and I would have liked to see you break up the monotony a little bit with how you present the information. I like that she uses the robe of bones to reinforce her undead minions and that she has them go after anyone with a holy symbol to ensure she can't be harmed with positive energy channeling. Everything else is mostly a mish-mash of her feats and hungry ghost monk abilities.

So, for the purposes of this round, I'm going to assess each villain according to concept, evocative description/flavor, appropriateness of the applied archetype, interesting/villainous tactics, and mechanical execution of the stat-block. So, here's how I'd rank this one:

Spoiler:

Villain Concept: Good
Flavor Text: Average
Appropriate Archetype: Excellent
Interesting Tactics: Average
Stat-Block Execution: Good to Average

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: This one's really close. I think it's a decent attempt, though I would have liked to see more villainy and a playing up of the hungry ghost connection to the dhampir's backstory. The technical execution is good number-wise, but not quite there in terms of the traditional use of the template. I think those elements can be learned, however. You've got a good core idea. Some pretty good thematic elements. Decent stat-blocking. I get the sense that you're trying very hard. And I'm inclined to see you continue to learn and grow in the competition.

As such, I do RECOMMEND this villain design to advance to the next round. And I hope the voters give you a chance to keep going. Best of luck.

CEO, Goblinworks

Summary: .5 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Marie my approach to this round was as a brand manager. I'll leave the detailed mechanical analysis to the others. If I were in charge of the product this villain would appear in, I'd be thinking the following:

Did you follow the instructions?

You picked a saucy wench image and gave us a vampire half-blood demigod wannabe.

There were much better images for this concept in the provided matrix. The discontinuity between the art & the submission doesn't work for me.

Lets say we commission an adventure based on this villain. I give this art to the person who's going to illustrate it or do the cover and say "yeah, like this but more vampirey and evil, ok?" And this is why art directors hat of brand managers have no limit.

0 Points.

Is this villain memorable and will it add value to my IP?

A dhampir who wants to raise a Force of Evil and become a god? Sure, that's a reasonable concept. It's also trite, overworked, and boring.

What makes this character different from a thousand other disposable meglomaniacs the PCs have faced?

0 Points.

Does the villain's concept make sense within the IP?

When you go for the concept of the head of a secret organization that is pursuing some long range goal, you're creating not just one character but a lot of other IP. You're trying to create something that could last a long time in the background and potentially become a world-shaping force.

How does her activity of forming a Force For Evil tie into her desire to become a God? Is she pre-building a church for herself (that's an interesting idea).

This format is too constrained to let you do all that but I sense it moving beneath the surface. I'm going to give you some credit here but your reach really did exceed your grasp.

.5 Points

What's the twist? (All great villains have a surprise within them)

I don't see any twist. Maybe the fact that she wants to be a god is a personal secret but it isn't influencing any part of her design, nor would it impact her appearance in a product.

0 Points.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Two dhampirs this round, interesting!

The robe of bones creates undead that aren't under the wearer's control, and I'm not sure you've accounted for that (maybe some of her undead/cleric minions are expected to command them? or maybe they won't attack her because she's a dhampir?).

I like the idea of a dhampir leading a group of undead and undead-friendly creatures; the PCs go in expecting a big undead boss, loaded up with undead-blasting scrolls and spells, and end up facing a living humanoid that's immune to most of their prepared attacks.

You gave her Catch Off-Guard as one of her bonus feats, but her attacks don't list any improvised weapons; if you expect that sort of combo, it's best to include a sample improvised melee weapon in the stat block. As a monk's unarmed attacks are going to be better than any improv weapon she could find, it's probably best to give her a different feat. Likewise for Throw Anything.

As you didn't need to repeat descriptions of class abilities or archetype abilities, you could have deleted the blank entries for those things at the end of your stat block, freeing up another 40 words for introductory material.

Paizo Employee Developer

Hey Marie! Congrats on making it into the top 16. I'm approaching all of this round's entries with a developer's eye, as the man who will ultimately be developing the winner's Module and the top 4 contestants' Pathfinder Society Scenarios. So let's assume you're one of those four designers and this is a villain you base your adventure around. What's my reaction when this comes in as your idea for a villain for your big adventure?

First, I'm having trouble buying this as a dhampir, who are typically gaunt and pale. There's not much of that going on with this lively looking Varisian or perhaps Vudrani woman. So if this were the existing cover image for your adventure, I'd probably send the proposal back to you for revision immediately for failing to make the character match the art.

Second, her motivations are both sort of cliched and neither is fleshed out as well as I think they would require to be enough to support the villain. I'm not quite sure how recruiting vampires and other undead to her side along with normal humans reforms humanity in her image. There aren't more dhampir afterwards, and she's still the sole perfect example of two imperfect worlds. What is she doing to make either of those imperfect worlds more like her?

As for the aspiration to take the Test of the Starstone, that's sort of thrown on as an afterthought, I feel, almost as if she would decide eventually that that's the best course of action, cause, you know, why not? Becoming a god is something I'm sure all villains would want to do, but in nearly 5,000 years only 4 people have succeeded at the task, so any smart villain will most likely recognize that their being the fifth ascended god isn't very likely.

In your hooks and plots, you mention a lot of Pathfinder canon, but none of it really feels organic to the character. I get the sense you really want this NPC to fit the world, but I find that less is often more when it comes to integrating new NPCs into the existing setting.

Now, to the statblocks. I'm not seeing any huge problems with presentation other than the block of blank abilities at the end. Unless you're presenting a new ability in a statblock or referencing an ability the GM is not assumed to have, you just need to cite that source in the second line for any racial or archetype based abilities. Those extra words could have gone a long way to fleshing out her goals, strategies, and motivations.

My assessment of this villain is that I would need to spend more than average amount of time developing her in order to make her work in a published product.

Final verdict: I DO NOT recommend this villain for advancement to the next round. Good luck in the public vote.

Paizo Employee Designer

Howdy. I’m Stephen, and I will be one of your guest judges for this round of RPG Superstar. I’m looking at the stat block purely based on what I consider fun or interesting to run. I have a little experience with that. That means the villain should be evocative, clear, effective, and big extra credit points go for interesting. There’re a lot of good villains out there, yours needs to stand out is some way.

Now that’s a cute dhampir. And I like my dhampir’s cute. I like the fact that Nyrazha is not all emo about her undead heritage, that’s a refreshing change. Here the quest of the Starstone makes sense to me. I like my Starstone seekers confident and smart.

The funny thing I don’t think monk is a good fit here. While she is on a quest for physical perfection, and the hungry ghost monk archetype makes, someone who wants to shape humanity in her image is going to need a lot more charisma. She can’t drain everyone.

Overall, I think she will be effective in combat, and the robe of bone’s limitation is less of a problem for me, because it’s a silly limitation on the item anyway. One line in the encounter text fixes that, and the PCs will still have to deal with the item as written, which I think is the important part of that item’s ability.

I’m a little mixed on this one. I like Nyrazha, but I think I like her story more than I like her stat block representation which seems rather…well…boring.

I think I’m not going to recommend for advancement. Good luck in the voting, Marie.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

How is she supposed to lead others and develop grand plans with Intelligence and Charisma both at 10? Also, she doesn't have Leadership, Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate, all of which a meglomaniacal leader with delusions of grandeur would need. I don't see any connection whatsoever between her stats and her stated goals/characterization.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

The story's fine. An ambitious and power-hungry fusion of undead and human seeks to raise a cult of the same, culminating in apotheosis. The stat-block's fine. A savage monk capable of dealing out the hurt and calling in some undead distractions to get between her and her foes.

But they have nothing to do with each other. The focus of the flavor-text on diplomacy and deal-making gets nothing more than a +2 to Bluff. The flavor-text would be much better suited to a bard or a charismatic rogue. It's this fundamental disconnect, I think, that will keep me from voting for this entry.


I wanted to like this villainess, I really did, and some of the ideas are good ones; but ultimately they would need more work to render playable and complete than those submissions that got my vote. So unfortunately, this character misses out. The potential is there, but it's too deeply buried by extrania.

If you get through, I would take the bits that everyone has acknowledged are interesting and chop the rest out, then rebuild from that foundation of interest. The current version reads too much as though you had one idea and then had a second, better, one which you forced into unhappy marraige with the first. What we have here are two character ideas squeezed into one, detracting and distracting from each other.


I wanted to like it too, bad picture and some mechanical overlooking as far as the encounter goes.

Dhampirs are also overworked and I hate them in almost every work. But that's just my personal opinion.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Marie,

Best of luck with your villain entry! Here's my thoughts, written before I've read anybody else's.

Concept: I love the "perfect balance" line - it's unusual (after Tanis-like angst-generators...) and chilling. Beoynd that, though, Nyrazha's motivation is unclear - is she just generally power-hungry? I mean, say she ascends and rules the world - what would she do with it if she got it? You don't give her anything that's important to her, except generic power.

Also, why wait for influence and support before taking the test? What good will they do?

Plot Hooks: These didn't grab me - they seem to be of the "go see what's happening" variety. You're basically saying there are many ways to encounter Nyrazha's machinations... but you don't say what those machinations are, or why they are interesting (to her, or to the PCs). So you've given us less of a plot and more of an introduction.

Mechanics: Nothing here grabs me in particular. It may be a solid implementation, but I don't see anything surprising or unexpected.

Use of Archetype: A life-sucking half-vampire is a clever conceit. I personally prefer archetypes that have more influence on the villain's personality - the description, for example, makes little of Nyrazha being a hungry ghost, or even of her being a monk. That means the archetype isn't too crucial to the story design - shame.

Use of Portrait: Emmm. I'm having difficulty buying this. The portrait girl looks so sweet and smiley! Cheerful, unprepossessing. Nyrazha sounds... like none of those things.

I'm not saying a half-vampire megalomaniac couldn't look like that; on the other hand, there's really nothing in the portrait to suggest anything of the sort.

All in all, I'm afraid this entry simply did far too little for my tastes. I could see this villain in a book, but it feels very generic and uninteresting to me. I don't have anything specific to point to - very likely you've got a much more complete, impressive vision of this villain than what I picked up from the text. I'd be very curious to hear, once voting is over, how you came to design Nyrazha, and what you see as her impressive, unusual aspects.

Wishing you lots of luck!

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Isaac Duplechain wrote:
How is she supposed to lead others and develop grand plans with Intelligence and Charisma both at 10? Also, she doesn't have Leadership, Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate, all of which a meglomaniacal leader with delusions of grandeur would need. I don't see any connection whatsoever between her stats and her stated goals/characterization.

+1

It's fine to want to be a great leader, but unless you're nutso and delusional, you need to back it up with something. She doesn't.

It's a cute picture, but not very dhampir-ish. I like her non-emo attitude as well, but I just don't think her personality matches up with her stat block.

P.S. The "thundering" weapon enhancement doesn't add +1d6 sonic damage. It only activates on a critical hit, in which case it adds +1d8 sonic and deafens the target. On non-crits, it does nothing.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

I've got to agree with most the others on the race vs. art issue, she just doesn't look the part, it almost seems like you had the idea for this villain going in and then ended up using the wrong face when the time came. Ascension to godhood seems like a major stretch here, I would think that if she were looking at things from a quasi-undead perspective that she would have the patience to manifest her ascendancy in a more controlled manner. The starstone may be her inspiration in this regard, but she seems to be in too much of a rush to get there. This takes a bad human trait and attaches it to a more-than-less undead boss. It pretty much sets her up for self destruction.

Shadow Lodge

When I saw the portrait, I had some high expectations, and I dont think they were met. I think that's the danger of choosing a picture that appears very charismatic... I look and see only a bluff of +2 and a charisma of 10. Sad :(

The portrait AND back story would have meshed together much better with a dhampyr bard (evangelist! Remember, it can heal undead!) than a monk.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

Thank you for all the feedback. Yes, I will be giving a run-down of my thoughts and process once voting is over. I look forward to seeing other community comments.

Also, please vote! :)


I like the idea of the hungry ghost monk. I had to go back and reread the actual description in the APG before I remembered that all they truly want is power. So to that end, the archetype works, but it tends to be a bit cliche.

The last line of the description has some promise "As soon as her powerbase is secure, she enters the Starstone’s cathedral." I think if somehow this was tied to the archetype choice, that would greatly increase the scores for this villain. The base idea is there, but the WHY needs to be there as well.

Unfortunately, as-is, it's not strong enough to get my vote, but best of luck.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

Good archetype choice for an undead foe. Bad luck as to when I read this entry. With this being the third vampire-ish submission I've read, I just couldn't get up much enthusiasm for this entry.

Props for going for minimal angst, and the Starstone goal's interesting for undead, if a bit predictable for villains in a hole. Seems like most of them have "become a god" on their bucket list in Golarion.

I do think the writing and ideas are in the top half of the entries. But I'm really sick of vampires, even more sick of half-vampires, and probably going to be sicker of both before the next AP is over.


Varthanna wrote:

When I saw the portrait, I had some high expectations, and I dont think they were met. I think that's the danger of choosing a picture that appears very charismatic... I look and see only a bluff of +2 and a charisma of 10. Sad :(

The portrait AND back story would have meshed together much better with a dhampyr bard (evangelist! Remember, it can heal undead!) than a monk.

+1

I agree with this and another comment that said it seems as if you had the idea first and then picked a picture. I'm pretty bummed that this round is not going that well for you, as you're the only lady left to kick guy ass :0 Good luck

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

I am afraid that 'replicating my awesome evil self' and 'I want to be a God' are not very unique motviations for villains. As such, we need real definition: why does she aspire to these things? Is she not a thrall of her vampiric parent? Are they rivals? Allies?

Writing is a little clunky and monotonous. Plot hook sentences all begin with the villain's name, tactics all begin with the same language. I dug you wondrous item. I thought your round two was not ready for moving on, but the voters rewarded you. And now I'm not sure I'd pay to buy an adventure written by you until I'd seen your name out there for a while. I think you have good potential, but I am not convinced you have Superstar design chops.

And I really don't like this half-vampire idea.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I really like the juxtaposition of this portrait with "Soul Slayer" and the possibilities that arise from her ambition to be the new dhampir god. The descriptive text otherwise looks seriously thin, but I'll see if there's something to save it.

The choice of hungry ghost monk supports this concept and reinterprets the archetype in a fascinating way.

I don't have high hopes for this, but I see great potential.


"sigh"

The picture did not feel right. A smiling villain is usually either out to charm me or an outright maniac. Her description and stat block do not convey that.

Story-wise I like her, but she needs a little more omph. As has been stated, what would she do with the world once she had?

Stat-wise she's a little weak for a CR 8. You do a good job of using her available treasure on consumable items that get consumed prior to combat, which puts he AC up there and protects those low hp. Her attack routine, damage and to hit, are far too low for a CR 8. Overall I would've ballparked her CR 6. A CR 7 if she had allies with her, her potions active and on rough terrain.

I really want to like all three villains you have here, but I don't think you'll make it to next round. Sorry.


I like the idea of a dhampir villian, but the motivation section doesn't grab me.

I like the use of the hungry ghost monk. It fits well with the concept.

I think this would be a good villian if the motivation section was improved.


Marie Small wrote:

Nyrazha, Soul Slayer

Description: Nyrazha appears to be a Varisian woman in her mid-twenties. Nyrazha is a dhampir, an unholy joining of human and vampire. She views herself as the perfect balance between two imperfect worlds.
Motivations/Goals: She recruits lesser vampires, other undead, and humans in an effort to remake humanity in her image. She promises immortality, foments political maneuvering, and utilizes force to maintain her followers’ allegiance. Ultimately, Nyrazha desires more than immortality. As soon as her powerbase is secure, she enters the Starstone’s cathedral.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: Nyrazha resides in the foothills of the Tusk Mountains just inside Ustalav. She recruits from settlements along Lake Lias and the foothills. The PCs are hired by Prince Aduard Ordranti III to investigate the disruption of goods from Canterwall before Ustalav falls into civil unrest.
Nyrazha and some followers travel into Virlych to recruit more undead to her cause. A patrol from Lastwall failed to return; the PCs are hired to find them and eliminate whatever horror befell them.
Nyrazha is forming diplomatic ties in various nations. The PCs hear disquieting rumors of the negotiations between these nations and the woman aspiring to godhood....

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you (somehow) missed it so far, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness means both the mortals falling off the plank into the lava at the same time, balance is something a succubus weighs herself on against a sack full of bloody archon feathers to check that she hasn’t been overindulging this month, and logic means that it’s never the succubus at fault – always the incompetent idiot of a second-rate hairdresser who is incapable of living up to a succubus’ expectations. Oh: And always remember it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind without any warning…
;)

If a sister succubus seduces this villain or a key henchman and things take their course… Well is this villain likely to be good around a young alu-fiend?
No. This woman is interested in making herself the leader of some sort of dhampir 'super-race'. Other beings aren't going to have any place worth mentioning in her vision.

Should a succubus tip off any organisations as to the identity, location, and/or activities of this person?
Her plans regarding making herself the leader of some sort of dhampir nation might be of note (and of concern to anyone without the potential to fit into her dhampir breeding program) if she were a charismatic leader who exhibited any skill at diplomacy. Fortunately for those not qualified when it comes to breeding dhampirs Nyrazha is uncharismatic, utterly lacking in diplomatic skills, and there's no indication that she has any kind of capable henchman in the wings able to make up for her own deficiencies in these areas.
She has delusions way above her indicated abilities and I think it's probably best for a succubus to just sit back and enjoy the fun of watching the increasingly ridiculous pratfalls to come. I sincerely doubt she'll get anywhere close to achieving the near-ultimate humiliation of attempting divine ascension in the Starstone Cathedral and instead joining the long list of failures...

How much money would I lend this person?
This is a villain I require an exceedingly ulterior motive to lend any money to...

Other comments? (including fruitcake rating where appropriate)
The name's nice and dramatic, and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else show up with it at some point in the future (claiming perhaps to be a reincarnation or descendant of her).
Fruitcake rating:
Nyrazha being someone who thinks dhampirs are the ultimate form of being short of godhood - and who is apparently convinced all she has to do is walk into the Starstone Cathedral to ascend - I rate her at a plateful of currant buns, a cherry pie, and a steamed pudding when it comes to sanity or lack thereof. She still has some tenuous grip on how things actually are but she's not far off losing it altogether.

Rating on the Gulga-Bracht supersuccubus scale of villainy:
4 (leader of a minor organisation or equivalent)

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would once again like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Okay, this gets a vote. Most of the criticisms raised are pretty valid, but there's something I dig in the chemistry of this- the sweet, smiling vudrani girl who's really a half-vampire monk, who actually thinks she's the best dang being ever and is totally sure she'll ace the Starstone test. Yes dhampirs probably shouldn't look like that (though, with enough makeup...), yes I kind of wish she was a bit more charismatic (or at least that she was a stillwater meditant), yes her methods don't always fit her stated goals, but there's something I personally like here.


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus; the clarifications of the Abyssal meanings of ‘sorry’ and ‘commiserations’ which she made in the previous round don’t bear repeating here, but the Abyssal definition for ‘sympathy’ has some mileage for repetition, so (once more) in the language of the Abyss ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 3 Results Post:

Spoiler:
Congratulations on making it to the top 16. Obviously you didn’t get any further otherwise I wouldn’t be making this post. Still: you can now focus on plotting your triumphant return for a future year (if you feel so inclined), have that nervous breakdown which recent events may have made seem *much* more attractive, and/or get on with any other important stuff you’ve been letting go for the past few weeks – E.G. vaporising minions for not scrubbing the scullery floor properly, paying your dressmaker’s bills (important not to let craftsmen skilled with phase-spider silk go out of business) and house-training that paladin of Iomedae you captured a couple of months ago…
And of course there’s still a statistical chance that your villain, even though she failed to see you (personally) through this round, may yet show up again in this contest…

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus wrote:

...Congratulations on making it to the top 16. Obviously you didn’t get any further otherwise I wouldn’t be making this post. Still: you can now focus on plotting your triumphant return for a future year (if you feel so inclined), have that nervous breakdown which recent events may have made seem *much* more attractive, and/or get on with any other important stuff you’ve been letting go for the past few weeks – E.G. vaporising minions for not scrubbing the scullery floor properly, paying your dressmaker’s bills (important not to let craftsmen skilled with phase-spider silk go out of business) and house-training that paladin of Iomedae you captured a couple of months ago…

And of course there’s still a statistical chance that your villain, even though she failed to see you (personally) through this round, may yet show up again in this contest…

Thank you for your oh-so-chaotic support in this contest. You should be pleased to know I vaporize (or at least ground) my four slav...uh children...on a regular basis for what seems (to them) very little reason. My paladin has actually survived, dare I say thrived, under 16 years of my care and tutelage. As for my plans for my future...*wink*

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

To address the judges' and community members' biggest concern...What is Nyrazha's purpose? What are her goals? WHY doesn't she appear as a dhampir "should?"

Background, Goals, Purpose discussion:
The choice of the picture is deliberate; the reason, as some gleaned, is that a "half-breed" of any kind does not evenly split the parents' traits as a matter of course. I knew it was a risk to choose this picture. Between my vision of Nyrazha and the lack of a picture that adequately (in my mind) presented a dhampir as female, there isn't a better portrait in the allowable list.

Her goals and background or purpose were victims of the word count. Even the 40-ish words SKR pointed out I could have "saved" and used elsewhere by dropping the special abilities list completely would not have satisfied. I over-reached, and it shows.

This was the original version, and clocked in at 424 words in MS Word:

First Draft: Descriptive Text:
Nyrazha
Portrait: 7
Description: Nyrazha appears to be a curvaceous woman of Varisian descent in her mid-twenties. Lush black lashes frame large aquamarine eyes while thick wavy hair cascades about a bronze elfin face. Nyrazha wears loose fitting clothing in colors reminiscent of a tropical sea.
Nyrazha is a dhampir, an unholy amalgam of living human and undead vampire. As such, she views herself as the perfect balance between two imperfect worlds. Indeed, her confidence is strongly rooted in the fact she has been blessed with strengths not seen in the living or the undead.
Motivations/Goals: Nyrazha is attempting to breed a new race. She sees herself as the natural evolution of the cycle of life and death. Because of this view, she deliberately courts lower level vampires, other undead, and those among the living demented enough to pine for her brand of immortality. Using promises of immortality, surgical application of force, and political maneuvering amongst her adherents, she feeds the aspirations of her allies just enough to maintain their allegiance to her.
Nyrazha is currently carving out a place for herself and her allies in the wilderness along the western border of Ustalav. All who resist her annexing their village or decline her offer of a purer existence are given to the undead as meal, entertainment, or for other, more sinister, purposes.
Ultimately, Nyrazha aspires to something more than being mother of a great race…more than a conqueror. She aspires to replace Tar Baphon and Aroden in the hearts and minds of the populace. The Starstone awaits.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks: Nyrazha currently resides in the foothills of the Tusk Mountains in the Ustalavic county of Canterwall. She is actively recruiting from the fishing villages along Lake Lias and the farming homesteads that pasture their livestock in the foothills. The PCs are hired by Prince Aduard Ordranti III to investigate the disruption in food stuffs from Canterwall before Ustalav falls into civil unrest.
Occasionally, she and a few chosen followers travel into Virlych to recruit more undead to her cause. The PCs are part of a force from Lastwall sent to inspect the ruins of Gallowspire and find the undead are more “alive” than usual.
Nyrazha has emissaries in the courts of Ustalav, Cheliax, and Nidal. She has begun to make diplomatic moves into Geb as well. The PCs are in one of these courts for their own reasons and hear disquieting rumors of a pact being drawn up between these courts and the champion of living death-she who would become goddess of all Golarion.

There's still a great deal wrong with it; that's where I started.

As for the concerns outside of motivations, portrait choice, and background...

Other Concerns:
I chose this archetype specifically because it plays on the parentage of the villain. I felt it was a natural "fit" and hungry ghost monk abilities would draw her; the dhampir description in Bestiary 2 states that dhampirs retain a bloodlust that can't be sated. I considered other classes, such as bard, but none of the archetypes seemed to fit. Also, the extra tid-bits (such as prepared spells) would not have fit in the word count, and I knew it.

She isn't charismatic. I cussed and nashed my teeth over it, but the elite array only spreads so far. ;) I thought placing the 14 in Wisdom, in addition to the obvious monk reasons, would convey two concepts. First, she's wise enough to know what she's good at. Second, that same wisdom, coupled with an average intelligence, would indicate that she has someone, or a few someones, to take care of the finer things when whooping somebody's keister just won't cut it. Obviously, from the feedback, relying on something as passive as an ability score isn't the best way to go, and this kind of thing really needs to be spelled out. Chalk that up to lesson learned, and not a mistake I will make again. :)

All in all, I've done my best. I appreciate all the feedback, and will use it to come back stronger and scarier than ever next year. :) I'll be hanging around to see how my fellow, now Top 8, contestants do. Good luck, and congratulations for making the next round. :D


Marie,

I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your writing style throughout this contest. While some of your ideas may be lacking in that quality no one can quite name - call it gonzo, or oomph - I always liked your presentation from a standpoint of readability.

Your verdant vine is currently being carried by our party's rogue in my wife's Burnt Offerings game, and we hope it will see us through what is sure to be a swollen mob of goblins in the deeps of Thistletop. You designed something cool and tight and fun, something that made everyone at my gaming table take notice. Thanks for that, and I hope you enter again next year and swing for the fences.

-PWU


Some thoughts on opening doors:
When dealing with a door, it is important to take into context what it looks like, the craftsmanship, whether it's locked, and whether it has inscribed above it either 'Dread Portal' or 'ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE' in the letters of some language native to 'the damned'.
It's generally a good idea to find someone of considerably lesser merit than yourself but of technically higher social standing to deal with the latter category of doors (those with messages above) since this gives a demon a perfectly good reason to insist (as firmly as need be) 'no, after you'. At that point they have to either concede social status by riposting 'no, after you' (although in this case it helps to have a couple of expendable mortal hirelings around too to insist they open the door for you) or show themselves up to be cowards by in some other way declining or outright running away.
But to return to locked doors, craftsmanship of the door (and whether it has any significance as a historical relic?) is important. Whilst in the interests of posterity it may be Good Manners to employ a locksmith (or other, less socially acceptable professional) to pay attention to a merit-worthy door, I find a raging Ulfen berserker to be an adequate and suitable solution to most other locked doors. Hand the berserker an adamantine axe, tell him that there's a witch from Irrisen torturing to death a bunch of kittens on the other side of the door, and watch him go! (It goes without saying that having a ready explanation for when the axeman breaks through the door for the circumstance of there not being such a witch with kittens present on the other side is ideal here too. Fortunately 'she's escaped by magic, taking all evidence of her dark deeds with her!' is an explanation which usually works when offered by a succubus with any art in the skills of persuasion.)

So, why the thoughts on dealing with doors? The judges at Paizo have trapped the door to RPGSuperstar Round 2 with all kinds of magic which pays no heed to past achievements, name, or rank. And whilst it may be the best (and only) chance for some, if you, 'Marie Small' (as you find it needful to be known as to the world in general beyond these boards), have the time and inclination I'd like to point your attention to other doors which there are around... Lilith, the Demon Queen of Victuals has one to 'Wayfinder', Mark Moreland and Hyrum Savage have one to 'Pathfinder Society', and over in other places Wolfgang Baur has one to 'Kobold Quarterly'. I've even heard rumours that ones exist to things called 'open design projects', although apparently these are doors which you usually have to pay to get through.
I think if you have that time and inclination, you certainly have the character to deal with the challenges of at least some of these doors in the otherwise potentially rather drawn-out wait for the RPGSuperstar 2012 door to be wheeled into place.

All the best.

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Marie Small wrote:
All in all, I've done my best. I appreciate all the feedback, and will use it to come back stronger and scarier than ever next year. :)

Fantastic run this year, Marie! I hope you come back and make the Top 32 again next year so you can take it up another notch and give it another go. There is nothing "Small" about your future opportunities. Well done!


And as a matter of record:
Disclaimer:
The previous post made by Ask A RPGSupersuccubus on this thread was made as a sop to her scribe, Charles Evans 25. Any mawkishness or unpractical sentimentality in it is entirely his fault. Normal service and views appropriate to a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus will now resume...

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013 aka Shadow-Mask

Power Word Unzip wrote:

Marie,

I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your writing style throughout this contest. While some of your ideas may be lacking in that quality no one can quite name - call it gonzo, or oomph - I always liked your presentation from a standpoint of readability.

Your verdant vine is currently being carried by our party's rogue in my wife's Burnt Offerings game, and we hope it will see us through what is sure to be a swollen mob of goblins in the deeps of Thistletop. You designed something cool and tight and fun, something that made everyone at my gaming table take notice. Thanks for that, and I hope you enter again next year and swing for the fences.

-PWU

Thank you for the encouragement. :) It's good to know what I do right so I can strengthen my not so great traits. ;)

Let me know how the verdant vine works out for your group. Hopefully, it'll cut the mob by about a third or so. :D Have fun.

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